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Hamilton delighted not to be punished

india Updated: Oct 05, 2007 20:24 IST
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World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will not be punished for erratic driving behind the safety car in the Japanese Grand Prix last week, the FIA confirmed on Friday.

Formula One race stewards conducted an enquiry into Hamilton's driving in Fuji and cleared him of improper conduct.

Despite protesting his innocence, Hamilton, who is currently 12 points clear in the standings, had feared that he would be penalised and his title chances would be affected.

But the 22-year-old British rookie has now been cleared of any wrongdoing and can concentrate on Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix where he could seal the driver's championship with a win.

Hamilton said: "I am very pleased that the stewards reached this decision and I am now looking forward to focusing on this weekend and the rest of the world championship.

"I had a good weekend [in Japan], I didn't put a foot wrong. I didn't do anything to put anyone else in danger."

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel complained on Thursday that Hamilton was at least partially responsible for their race-ending crash in Fuji.

Vettel was penalised 10 grid positions for his part in the crash prompting his Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost to supply race stewards with video evidence of Hamilton's controversial manoeuvres behind the safety car.

The stewards have now downgraded Vettel's punishment to a verbal warning as well as clearing Hamilton to race.

They watched parts of the Japan race, including amateur video of the accident which had appeared on video-sharing website YouTube.

Following that meeting, the stewards stated: "Having heard the explanation of all concerned and viewed both the original film of the incident which was available to stewards at Fuji as well as the new film, what has become apparent is the view clearly expressed by all drivers and team managers alike that the conditions at Fuji were exceptionally bad and worse than those experienced when the race starts behind the safety car.

"Because of those views, the stewards accept that it may be inappropriate to impose the penalty normally applied for an offence such as this.

"In the circumstances the stewards will reduce the penalty imposed on Vettel to a reprimand.

"The involvement of Lewis Hamilton in this incident has also been considered in the light of evidence given by him, his team manager and in particular all other parties present and no penalty is imposed upon him."

Hamilton leads Fernando Alonso of Spain in the standings and will become the first rookie to win the world championship if he drops no more than one point to his McLaren team-mate in Shanghai.